Why does the U.S. government classify marijuana as a “Schedule 1” drug, the most restricted category, reserved for drugs which have “no currently accepted medical use”? One reason is that the DEA won’t even let scientists study marijuana, to see if it can benefit D.C., Maryland and Virginia patients. But that may soon change, after a decision is reached in an 11-year-old law suit now in federal court.
Lyle Craker is a professor of Plant, Soil and Insect Sciences at the University of Massachusetts. Prof. Craker does not use marijuana. or think that the drug should be legal for recreational purposes. Craker does believe that there are probably some therapeutic uses for marijuana which scientists in his field need to study. The DEA disagrees.
For over 11 years, Professor Craker has tried to obtain medical grade marijuana for a formal study at U. Mass of the medical benefits of marijuana. For 11 years the DEA has refused to let him grow marijuana for his study, or to sell him marijuana from the DEA’s own crop.
With the help of the ACLU and Covington, a DC law firm, Craker’s case has now reached the federal First Circuit Court of Appeals. Oral argument in his case , Lyle E. Craker v. Drug Enforcement Administration, 09-1220 , was heard today before a three judge panel.
If marijuana has no therapeutic benefits, why is the DEA so scared to let Professor Craker study it? Simple, research from around the world has shown marijuana to be effective against a variety of diseases, with few side effects.
In the U.S., cancer patients, HIV/AIDS sufferers, and those with glaucoma and multiple sclerosis (to name just a few) can swear to marijuana’s therapeutic benefits.
It is absurd, really, that anyone suffering from pain can get readily get a prescription for Oxycontin, a synthetic opioid, no less dangerous and addicting than heroin and morphine, but are denied marijuana, a drug with no known overdose potential.
Of course, Oxycontin is manufactured and distributed by a large pharmaceutical company (Purdue Labs), creating huge profits, while marijuana is a home-grown plant which in an ideal world, would compete against it.
How long will the DEA be able to classify marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug. Professor Craker’s case may help decide.